The Dilemma: Should the 76ers Sit Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for the Rest of the Season?


Sixers Joel Embiid and first round draft pick Ben Simmons share a moment on the bench. Will 76ers see the two starting games near the end of the season? Photo courtesy

Unlike years past, the Philadelphia 76ers have a decision to make that doesn’t involve ping-pong balls.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Right now, the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves in the horns of a dilemma.

That dilemma? Do they let potential stars Joel  Embiid and Ben Simmons play after the All-Star break if they recover from their injuries, or should the team think about the future and shelve their young phenoms in anticipation of future greatness?

With the team still dealing with the fallout of not being on the level with the public about the torn meniscus in  Embiid’s left knee, the big talk around town is whether or not the team should shut down the former Kansas star for the rest of the season.

Because Embiid’s injury won’t require surgery, he could theoretically be back before the end of the season.  There’s also the possibility that rookie Simmons, who is recovering from a foot injury, could be ready late in the season.

But given Embiid’s history with injuries, especially the foot injury that sidelined him for the first two years of his career, and the fact that the team isn’t within striking distance of the NBA playoffs, it wouldn’t seem illogical for the Sixers to put both players on ice until next season to give them the chance to get completely healthy for next season.

But Sixers head coach Brett Brown wouldn’t necessarily agree with that line of thinking.

Since Dec. 30, the 76ers have a 14-11 record. During that time, they’ve been fun to watch as the team, led by Embid, has started to show flashes of what could be.

Brown even appears to be having fun coaching the team despite a 21-34 record. He believes that the team is finally buying into his defensive philosophy and has been making progress.

During a gathering of reporters earlier this week, Brown said he was more concerned about keeping the team focused for the rest of the season and getting better.

He’d like to see them end the season on a high note.

“We want to take this final third [of the season], move the program forward, and try to set the stage for a great summer,” Brown said on  “I’m excited for that final third, and so is my staff. This All-Star break will be dealt with on those terms.”

It’s safe to assume that Brown would love to see what the team would look like with both Embiid and Simmons on the floor. He wants to build some momentum and perhaps create some buzz for next season. After stinking up the joint the last few years in the name of getting a lottery pick, Brown wants to show fans a glimpse of what could be a promising future.

But for Sixers fans still smarting from the Andrew Bynum debacle, seeing Embid dancing on stage at a Meek Mill concert caused flashbacks of a Bynum too injured to play taking to the bowling lanes.

While I can see both sides of the argument, the outstanding play of Dario Saric and Nerlens Noel in the absence of Embiid and Simmons makes me lean toward shutting both of them down for the season so that they can get healthy and tear through the NBA next year.

Considering the dilemma that the Philadelphia 76ers usually face at this point in the NBA’s regular season, that’s an improvement.

Feets Don’t Fail Me Now: Sixers Gamble On Injury Prone Draft Picks

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, the Sixers could be a good team in the future.

If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, the Sixers could be a good team in the future.

PHILADELPHIA-Last Sunday I was a guest on 94 WIP-FM with Ricky Ricardo and we were discussing the NBA Draft and the possibility that the 76ers would draft Kansas’s 7-foot center Joel Embiid who has a stress fracture in his right foot.

A fan called the show and vented his spleen about how felt it would be idiotic for the Sixers to take draft another big man in the draft with a damaged leg. It was to the point where the caller was breathing to the point where it sounded like he was hyperventilating.

While there are bigger things than basketball to be that upset, the sentiment among fans is certainly understandable given how the 76ers franchise seems to be enamored with big men with leg and foot problems.

The Sixers made the injured Embiid the third pick of the draft much to the chagrin of Sixers fans, who are wondering what are general manager Sam Hinkie and head coach Brett Brown trying to do? This guy has the same fractured navicular bone that ended the careers of Bill Walton and Yao Ming.

During the last three years, 76ers fans have been enduring big men with leg problems. Last year, the Sixers drafted Nerlens Noel, who did not get any playing time with the team because he was rehabbing the ACL in his left knee.

And speaking of big men with bad feet, the Sixers fans are still smarting from the “thievery” of one free agent center Andrew Bynum whose bum legs prevented him from putting on a Sixers uniform. That was a true embarrassment for the franchise considering the huge welcome for him by thousands of 76ers fans at the National Constitution Center in 2012.

Meanwhile, Hinkie has been telling fans to patient with the team. On one hand that’s understandable, the Sixers rebuilding process is going to take some time. Hopefully, fans won’t have to experience another 19-63 season.

I know a large number of fans are upset about the team picking Embiid because of his injured foot and they should be given the team’s recent history of injuries. They are also ticked off about acquiring 6-10 Croatian power forward Dario Saric, who will spend the next two years playing for a pro team in Turkey.

The bottom-line here is that the gambles this management team is making had better pay off into the team being a contender for an NBA title or Hinkie and Brown will be run out of town quick, fast and a hurry.

If Embiid and Noel become the forces in the low post the Sixers think they can become with a mature Michael Carter-Williams at point guard and Saric is the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki, Hinkie and the Sixers will be hailed as geniuses who will never want for a steak dinner or alcoholic beverage in this town again.

The seasons, like last year, that they will have tanked will be looked upon as a fond memory, especially if there’s a parade down Broad Street in the next five or six years.

Now if those injuries keep bothering those guys to the point to where they are missing a significant amount of games, every columnist in this town (including yours truly), sports talk radio host and fans on the various social media platforms, will never let the Sixers hear the end of it.

It will go down in the lore of bad moves personnel moves by Philly sports teams like the Phillies trading pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, the Eagles drafting combine workout wonder Mike Mamula who turned out to be a bust or the Sixers drafting Charles Shackleford over Brad Daugherty.


Can they Make It work: Philly, Sixers Welcome Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson

On Wednesday thousands of 76ers fans welcomed Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson at the National Constitutional Center. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

When the Philadelphia 76ers acquired 7-foot center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers and Jason Richardson from the Orlando Magic, it capped off what Sixers’ head coach Doug Collins and general manager Rod Thorn characterized as a successful off-season in terms of filling needs and helping the team build off last year’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“Anywhere I’ve been I’ve never really had that guy that you throw the ball down in the post, play through him and he’ll give you possibly 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) every night, he’ll be able to block shots and rebound,” Collins said. “Obviously, we’ve become a power team. … The day we met after our last game, we wanted to get bigger, more athletic on the front line and we’ve added more shooting.”

On Wednesday, Bynum and Richardson received a huge welcome from about 1,000 cheering Sixers fans who gathered at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall at a public press conference for the team’s newest acquisitions.

Outside of the Lakers new center Dwight Howard, the Sixers got the league’s second best center in Bynum. Last year, he had a breakout season with the Lakers averaging 18.7 points per game while pulling 11 rebounds per game while playing with superstars like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. He said he embraces the opportunity to being the no. 1 scoring option in the Sixers offense.

“I’m looking forward to it because it’s the next step in my career in my progression as a basketball player,” Bynum said. “For a little while in the Denver series (the Lakers) used me as a main option. It’s going to be a lot more exciting, a lot more fun playing, knowing everything is going to be run through me.”

In addition to his ability to score in the low post as well as defend and rebound in the paint, Bynum’s presence should make things easier for the Sixers to find open spaces for their shooters.

After parting ways with players like Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala, the Sixers will have better set of shooters than they had last year. Richardson will be the team’s shooting guard this season. Last year with the Magic, the former Michigan State star averaged 11 points per game and shot 36 percent from 3-point range.

“I just want to help this team win games, provide some veteran leadership and help the guys out,” Richardson said.

Coming off the bench for the Sixers will be players like Nick Young, who averaged 16.6 points in 40 games with the Washington Wizards and 9.7 points per game in 22 games with the Los Angeles Clippers. He shot 37 percent from 3-point range. Dorell Wright, who averaged 10 points per game with the Golden State Warriors last season. In the 2010-2011 season, Wright averaged 16 points per game and led the NBA in three point baskets made.

“Dorell was one of the most improved players in the NBA, he really can shoot the three,” Collins said. “I think he’s a guy that if we want to go to a smaller lineup and use him as a part of a shooting lineup. We could have Jrue (Holiday), Richardson, Nick Young and Dorell. That’s four guys who can shoot the ball.

With all the new pieces joining the returning players from last season, Collins said he is confident that the team will come together as unit by the time of their season-opener in October against the Denver Nuggets.

“I think everybody’s going to be committed early,” Collins said. “What we’re going to try to do is to guys to come in after Labor Day so they can get a chance to workout together and get to know one another …We’re going to hit the ground running. Everyday in practice is going to be important for us.”

Sixers Hope Bynum Will be a Force in the Low Post

Andrew Bynum could be the Sixers most athletic big man since Moses Malone.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun

With the Sixers acquisition of Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson in a blockbuster four-team deal involving the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, two eras came to an end in the City of Brotherly of Love.

One was a long time in coming and the other never got started.

Gone from the Sixers are longtime veteran forward Andre Iguodala, who is headed to the Nuggets.  The Maurice Harkless “era” came to a screeching halt before it began. The Sixers 2012 first-round draft [pick  along with 2011 first-round pick forward Nik Vucevic and a protected first-round pick for next year were dealt to the Orlando Magic.

The seven-foot Bynum, who is native of nearby Plainsboro, N.J. averaged a career-high 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers last season and played in his first NBA All-Star game.  He is arguably the second-best center in the NBA next to the man who will take his place in Los Angeles—Dwight Howard.

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old, seven-foot tall Bynum will give the Sixers they haven’t had since the days of Moses Malone, a consistent scoring and rebounding presence in the low post.  Sixers general manager Rod Thorn said Bynum’s size and ability to score in the paint will create scoring opportunities for Sixers guard and wing players,, especially like  Richardson.

“Any time you have a low post center, he’s going to draw attention, double teams and you need shooting,” Thorn said. “If you look at our roster right now, we have a  (Jrue) Holiday who’s good outside shooter, we have Nick Jones, we have Dorrell Wright, and now we have Jason Richardson, who’s quality outside shooter. “

Richardson, the former Michigan State Spartan, has been in the league for 11 years and has averaged 17.5 points per game and has played 805 games.  For his career, Richardson is shooting 37.2 percent from three-point range.

As much as the team loved Iguodala’s on-court versatility and his athleticism, Thorn said the team needed someone with the ability to score in the low post when the game is on the game line, something that was lacking from the Sixers in the 2012 playoffs.

“(Iguodala) is not the player who’s going to dominate late in the ball game, but he is a fantastic player, playing for Denver he’ll be a fantastic player for them as well, “ Thorn said. “From our perspective, (Bynum) is going to have a huge impact on the court. He’s an all-round player with size, skills and strength. He’s got the whole package.”

Over a month and a half ago, the Sixers were raving over the potential of rookie Maurice Harkless and the impact he would ultimately have on the team once he got on the court.  However, the opportunity to get one of the league’s premiere centers was just too good to pass up.  Harkless was the deal -maker for the Sixers.

“I was loathing to include (Harkless) in it, but when you look at the bottomline you’ve got to give up something to get something,” Thorn said. “If we didn’t include Harkless in the deal we wouldn’t have been able to make the deal.”

Bynum does bring a championship pedigree to the Sixers, winning two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. Sixers head coach Doug Collins, who is in London doing the color commentary for NBC’s Olympic basketball coverage, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was definitely happy with the trade.

“We think we’ve gotten bigger on the front line,” Collins said. “We’re more athletic. We’re bigger on the perimeter, we’ve added shooting.  All the things, we set out to do, we think we’ve done that.”

The downside to the talented Bynum is that he has a reputation for being a head case both on and off the court during his days with the Lakers. But Thorn said he believes the Sixers new center won’t be much of a problem in Philadelphia.

“We see Bynum as an intelligent, competitive guy who’s had some maturity things over the course of his years with the Lakers, but we don’t see any problem there at all,” Thorn said. “We think he’s smart and his maturity level has gone up every year. That was not an issue with us at all. We like everything we see about him and think he’ll fit in great with us.”